Don't Sell, Tell: The Power Of Story In Modern Marketing

Today’s marketers are faced with a tougher challenge than ever before. Consumer attention spans are shrinking as a result of the seemingly endless barrage of daily content. The challenge for marketers becomes creating compelling and meaningful connections in an environment largely dominated by superficial messaging. 

This is true across the broad consumer landscape, but especially for the sports industry. The advent of social media, mobile advertising, digital streaming services and more has led to a cacophony of leagues, teams and individual athletes, all with their own unique brands and content, vying for attention.

The 2015 Super Bowl, for instance, generated 28.4 million tweets. How many of those were from brands? How many shamelessly asked their followers to act, buy or advocate on behalf of something?

Instead, brands need to build connections to the people and stories behind an event, creating a narrative and ecosystem that fans can engage in out of their own interest, and in their own ways. Developing original, story-driven content that provides a behind-the-scenes look at the athletes and their sport fosters a deeper relationship with fans and a greater appreciation for the sport and athletes. 



For us, the popularity and persistence of reality TV shows like ours (now finishing its 23rd season) demonstrates this inherent interest in the deeper stories.

The sports companies themselves are in the best position to create this content. With direct access to athletes, programming and insider knowledge, we can act as master storytellers and traffic-managers for the various narratives being created. 

Though it can be daunting to maintain so many channels that require unique content and storytelling; each present a unique opportunity to reach a fan — and more importantly, make it convenient for the fan who wants to engage the brand story in a specific way.

For example, our content ecosystem includes: cable, Pay-Per View, online streaming, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, earned media, original programing, video games, third-party and owned apps, branded gyms and stores, and of course, live events. This cross-platform content offers fans a variety of ways to engage with the brand and each other, making content easily accessible to where they are and servicing a wider spectrum of customers’ preferences. This is an approach all sports entities can engage.

In confronting this new consumer, one who is more distracted and less attentive than ever before, marketers have an important choice to make. They can keep competing for consideration by tugging at the sleeve of their target, or they can choose to tell an arresting story that people not only want to experience and share but will actually seek out.

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